Is it time for a new mayor in Jackson?
Or will experience and longstanding service outweigh the prospect of bringing a new perspective into the office?
Those are the major questions facing Jackson voters as the April 5 municipal elections draw closer.
The Jackson mayoral race is the only contested municipal race in the county outside of the city of Cape Girardeau. All other aldermen and council candidates are running unopposed.
Rebecca Ward is clearly the underdog in this mayoral campaign as she runs against Paul Sander, 49, who has been the mayor for the past 12 years and has been on the city's board of aldermen since 1986.
The city has experienced tremendous growth under his watch, thanks to aggressive planning and infrastructure upgrades. And the relationship with the city of Cape Girardeau has improved under his leadership. Beyond that, he has garnered significantly more financial backing than his opponent.
According to public financial disclosure records, Sander has $12,780 on hand, including collection of $4,420 for the most recent filing period. He has received donations from 90 people, including 16 people with addresses in Cape Girardeau and one in Clayton.
Records show that Ward, 45, has reported $1,000, all of which is her own money.
"I do not have the means to match Mayor Sander in advertising," Ward said. Without elaborating, she said that seemed to be working in her favor.
Sander said he won't be able to tell how the race is going until election day, but said, "I always enjoy talking with our citizens and discussing ways we can improve Jackson."
Compared to Sander, Ward, an architect, has limited government experience. She served on historic commissions in DeKalb County, Georgia, and in Poplar Bluff. However, she has more education, receiving bachelor degrees in environmental design and architecture at the University of Kansas. She also earned a master's degree in heritage preservation at Georgia State University. She has two children, Rachel, 13, and Sam, 11.
Sander has two sons, Sam, 16 and Spencer, 12. He has been married to Pam Sander for 23 years. He is the past president and 20-year board member of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce. He's a member of the Southeast Missouri Hospital Board of Trustees, past president and member of the Jackson Elks, member of Jackson's heritage association, past president and member of the region's industrial recruitment board, former Little League baseball coach and 20-year member of the Jackson Jaycees.
Sander, a licensed Realtor since 1994, graduated from Jackson High School and attended Southeast Missouri State University.
As far as aldermen, Phil Penzel (Ward 1), Kerry Hoffman (Ward 2), Val Tuschhoff (Ward 3) and Dale Rauh (Ward 4) are all running unopposed.
Darlene Thompson, Albert Cook and Erie Foster are running for three spots on Allenville's board of trustees; Charles Buster Hodges is running unopposed for Ward 2 alderman in Delta; Jeffery Sneathen is unopposed for a Gordonville board position; Irvin L. Eulinberg and Rebecca Schartzer are running for two spots on Oak Ridge's town board; and Doyle Parmer, Earl Stevens and John Green are running for three positions on Dutchtown's board of trustees.